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Historic England Research Records

Stonea Camp

Hob Uid: 372473
Location :
Cambridgeshire
Fenland
Wimblington
Grid Ref : TL4480093010
Summary : Earthwork and cropmark remains of a Late Iron Age/early Roman enclosure complex. Situated at the southern end of an "island" of raised ground in the fens, the outermost earthworks enclose an area of 9.1 hectares, but aerial photography and excavation suggest that the earthworks had also been complemented by a network of now extinct water channels. The site has seen much surface collection over the last 40 years, along with three episodes of excavation - single trenches across ramparts in 1959 and 1980 (the latter as part of a programe of excavation that came to focus on the Roman activity to the north - see TL49SW 29 and other associated monuments), and some more extensive work in the early 1990s associated with work to reinstate the earthworks (which had largely been ploughed out since the 1950s). It is clear that the extant earthworks represent more than one phase of construction - three have been tentatively suggested, although excavations to date have been of limited use in establishing the correct sequence. No stratified, datable finds have come from any of the bank and ditch sections of the main earthworks, for example. Most artefacts have been recovered during fieldwalking and metal detecting, although some human remains turned up in the early 1990s trenches, including a child's skull bearing cut marks from a knife or sword and radiocarbon dated to 2070+/-65 BP (uncalibrated), and a complete adult male skeleton in upper ditch fill radiocarbon dated to 1985+/-55 BP (uncalibrated). It is clear, however, that the "camp" overlies at least one and possibly 3 ring ditches of Early Bronze Age date, as well as indications of Neolithic activity (see associated records). Jackson & Potter suggest an origin for the site in the late Iron Age, possibly as an "infrequently visited centre of a ritual nature" (on the basis of the scarcity of finds and features indicative of any more intensive occupation), with the main period of activity falling in the period circa 40-60 AD.
More information : (TL 448930) Stonea Camp (NR). (1)

('A' - TL 44879308) Earthen Ring (NR) ('B' - TL 44909314) Earthen Ring (NR). (2)

An earthwork of two phases commencing with a 'promontory', type of defence with earthworks less developed in the fen side. The second phase consists of a pair of banks and ditches in the form of an arc superimposed on the earlier phase. The second phase may include the outer bank on the SW and the bank and ditch across the N and down the E. The later defences are of considerable strength and have kept a good profile (3). The later earthworks have been classified as Danish by Dyer (4) because of the D-shape and situation on a natural hillock. Roman pottery including Samian of the Claudian period has been found on the surface (5). Signs of hut circles and pits within the enclosure (6), cropmarks in and around the earthwork (7). Phillips (3) mentions three 'earthen rings' shown on the OS map which he assumed were Bronze Age burial places. (Only two were found, at 'A' and 'B' (2). (3-7)

TL448931:
WIMBLINGTON, Stonea Camp: Earthworks on gravel island, perhaps Iron Age (see Pl. Ib); Icenian coin hoard (CAS Procs. 43. 16); Roman pottery, quern, late 3rd C coin hoard (inf E. Standen; TWP). One piece of samian, Neronian (BRH 1955), further samian AD 40/44 and "pre-Flavian" (BRH 1964). Coarse pottery collected TWP, notable for absence of standard East Anglian wares: occupation starts altogether earlier than normal for district. (See CAS Proc. 58, 26, 29f). Small group of pottery from 44689306, 1961 (CAEM; inf R.M. Butler). (See TL 49 SE 2 for Icenian Coin Hoard - not definitely from the site). (8)

TL 449932 Acheulean flint axe, ploughed up on gravel. (9)

Stonea Camp visited 26.11.75. Almost entirely ploughed, mostly for sugar beet. Only very slight traces of bank remain; most ditches have been filled or have been scoured for drainage. Classified IA. Many APs refer under "Wimblington" particularly St Joseph's 8.6.1951, FN 10-16. (10)

Stonea Camp: name verified. A series of defensive earthworks designed to enclose areas, in two distinct phases, of about 9.0 hectares and 4.0 hectares respectively. The works are well positioned defensively, being on the SW edge of the former Stonea 'island', a gravel/clay outcrop dropping away to peat fen on the S, SE and W sides, with the onetime ramparts on the S and SW sides being contoured to the fen edge. The accepted phase 1 (3) (4) (5) (6) (see attached shaded plan) earthworks have nearly all been ploughed out leaving only broad light coloured soil marks on the line of the banks. About 250.0m length of 6.0m wide ditch, cut-back by plough, extending N-S on the extreme E side is the only extant remains of phase 1. The phase 2 works comprise a bivallate arc forming a D-shaped 'promontory' defence against the fen edge. About 100.0m length of rampart and ditch to the NW is the only remains of the outer work, while the inner defence survives largely as a cut-back and re-shaped ditch about 6.0m wide, except on the E side where the work is best preserved and rampart and ditch are largely complete, although mutilated. All of the connecting cross-works to the SW have been ploughed out, but again, their fen contoured course can be traced as soil marks. The enclosed interior and surrounding areas are under plough and young crop and no significant features were noted. There is no trace of the 'Earthern Rings' (2) and the tenant farmer cannot recall mounds at these sites. The general uneveness of the interior is largely due to 19th century gravel quarrying. A medium scatter of pottery, shell and burnt flint was found within about 40.0m radius of TL 44709310. The pottery was largely of coarse buff ware and possibly Romano-British in form but several sherds were possibly Bronze Age/Iron Age in style. The sherds are now held by Peterborough Museum. Both phases of earthworks conform to Iron Age fort types, yet the 2nd phase makes little attempt to incorporate or utilise the earlier works, suggesting a long time span between the two. If both phases are Iron Age this would be an unusual example of contracted strengthening of defence, rathern than expansion.
Re-surveyed at 1:2500 on MSDs. (11)

Excavations were carried out by Dr. T. Potter in August and September 1980. A section was cut through the inner rampart and ditch on the north-west (best preserved) side of this defended enclosure, and a limited area of the interior was excavated. In addition a programme of controlled surface collection and a contour survey of the Camp were carried out. The defences, apparently constructed here on roddon silts, consisted of an earthen rampart and U-shaped ditch. There was no evidence for timber revetting of the rampart which was of simple `dump' construction. The top has been disturbed by recent agricultural activity. Modern drainage, too, has disturbed much of the upper fill of the ditch, but the lower fill remained intact. This was of cosniderable interest as it consisted of a solid mass of peat turves, still individually identifiable. There was no silting beneath these turves and no evidence for cleaning out of the ditch. The turves themselves probably represent the upper part of the rampart, deliberately thrown back into the ditch. The lack of silting beneath the turves suggest this destruction occurred comparatively soon after the building of the defence. Finds from the excavation and surface collections point to a date in the first half of the first century A.D. and the context for each such activity may well be the Icenian revolt of AD 47 when Roman forces suppressed a native uprising. (12)

Short description and results of excavations at Stonea Camp. (13)

Scheduled: Cambs no.22. (14)

In 1990 the publication of a management plan for Cambs County Council farms brought about a programme of work to prevent further damage to the site by taking it out of cultivation. Three seasons of trial excavation (of the enclosure banks and the 'Earthen Ring' noted in the interior on O.S. maps) and survey indicated the former existence of additional ditches, and demonstrated the presence of well preserved organic remains, including human remains. The site is comparable to the hillforts of the South west in terms of complexity, and is unparalleled in Cambridgeshire and the surrounding area. There is little evidence for occupation of the interior however. [Interim report and specialist reports on flint assemblages, botanical and human remains and soils]. (15)

Stonea Camp: a multivallate hillfort at Latches Fen. (16)

Additional reference. (17)

NB - this record now comprises solely the Iron Age and Roman aspects of Stonea Camp. The earlier ring ditches and the Palaeolithic handaxe have now been recorded separately. See associated monument records for further details.

Earthwork and cropmark remains of a Late Iron Age/early Roman enclosure complex (also known locally as "The Stitches"). Situated on the southwestern promontory of an "island" of raised ground in the fens, the outermost earthworks enclose an area of 9.1 hectares, but aerial photography and excavation suggest that the earthworks had also been complemented by a network of now extinct water channels as well as lower-lying marshy ground. The site has seen much surface collection over the last 40 years, along with three episodes of excavation - single trenches across ramparts in 1959 and 1980 (the latter as part of a programe of excavation that came to focus on the Roman activity to the north - see TL 49 SW 29 and other associated monuments), and much more extensive work in the early 1990s associated with work to reinstate the earthworks (which had largely been ploughed out since the 1950s). It is clear that the extant earthworks represent more than one phase of construction - three have been tentatively suggested, although excavations to date have been of limited use in entangling the correct sequence. No stratified, datable finds have come from any of the bank and ditch sections of the main earthworks, for example. Indeed, the overall quantity of known finds - pottery and animal bone - is very small. Most artefacts have been recovered during fieldwalking and metal detecting. The latter are, inevitably, poorly known at best, but certainly include a hoard with gold coins of Cunobelin and silver coins of the Coritani/Coieltauvi; a hoard of silver coins of the Iceni along with some denarii; a hoard of aes with some of Claudian date; plus numerous individual or small groups of coins, many Iceni, but also including potin coins and Roman coins of which the lates belong to the late 4th century AD. Some human remains turned up in the early 1990s trenches, including a child's skull bearing cut marks from a knife or sword and radiocarbon dated to 2070+/-65 BP (uncalibrated - approximate calibrated range is 185-55 BC) and associated human bones of an adult and a younger child. A complete adult male skeleton in upper ditch fill radiocarbon dated to 1985+/-55 BP (uncalibrated). This individual appears to have been deposited into a wet ditch - it was found within silty-sands deposited during an episode of flooding, but no grave cut was visible. There are also reports that human remains had been uncovered on previous occasions during ploughing. It is clear, however, that the "camp" overlies at least one and possibly 3 ring ditches of Early Bronze Age date, as well as indications of Neolithic activity (see associated records), although Malim has suggested that the ring ditch excavated in the centre of the camp could also plausibly be interpreted as a possible round house, as a lack of associated finds made it impossible to decide between alternative interpretations. However, on balance an earlier date seems more likely. Jackson & Potter suggest an origin for the site in the late Iron Age, possibly as an "infrequently visited centre of a ritual nature" (on the basis of the scarcity of finds and features indicative of any more intensive occupation), with the main period of activity falling in the period circa 40-60 AD. Malim has suggested that the human remains and the extent of the earthworks support ideas that the site may have been involved in the Icenian revolt of AD 47, as reported by Tacitus, although the dated human remains clearly precede this event, and leaving Tacitus aside, the human remains from Stonea fit into patterns of deposition of human remians recovered from Iron Age sites across the country. (18-19)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 6" 1959
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 6" 1927
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Source Number : 11
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JRL 08-APR-76
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 12
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Letter (T Potter) BM 14.12.80) and Summary of Excav's (Typescript)
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Source Number : 13
Source : The Roman site of Stonea, Cambridgshire [a procurator's HQ?]
Source details :
Page(s) : 115-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 56
Source Number : 14
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : Cambridgeshire
Page(s) : 8
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Source Number : 15
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Malim T 1992 Stonea Camp, Cambs County Council Archaeol Rept 71
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Source Number : 16
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 05-Jan-93
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Source Number : 17
Source : The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Report no.2, 1995-1996 : the Great Ouse Drainage and the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wolds [Regions 9 and 12]
Source details :
Page(s) : 62
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Source Number : 18
Source : Excavations at Stonea, Cambridgeshire 1980-85
Source details :
Page(s) : 27-44, 671-694
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Source Number : 19
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Malim, T. 1992. Stonea Camp, Wimblington. An Iron Age Fort in the Fens. Interim report. Cambridgeshire County Council Archaeology report No. 71.
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely : volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 46-7
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Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeology and the landscape : essays for L V Grinsell
Source details :
Page(s) : 226, 235
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society
Source details : (T Potter)
Page(s) : 29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 58, 1965
Source Number : 6
Source : Transactions of the Cambridge and Huntingdonshire Archaeological Society
Source details : (SI Ladds)
Page(s) : 421
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 4, 1915-30
Source Number : 7
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : (J K St Joseph FN 11 15 16)
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Source Number : 8
Source : The Fenland in Roman times : studies of a major area of peasant colonization with a gazetteer covering all known sites and finds
Source details :
Page(s) : 218
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Vol(s) : no.5
Source Number : 9
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 7: Bulletin of archaeological discoveries
Source details :
Page(s) : 2
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Vol(s) : 6, 1959
Source Number : 10
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Cambs CC Arch Unit Record Card (Alison Taylor)
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Late Iron Age
Display Date : Late Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -100
Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement, Multivallate Hillfort, Inhumation
Evidence : Earthwork, Find, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Enclosure, Findspot
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit, Find

Components and Objects:
Period : Late Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement, Multivallate Hillfort, Inhumation
Object Type : COIN HOARD, HUMAN REMAINS
Object Material :
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Enclosure, Findspot
Object Type : VESSEL, COIN HOARD
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 20453
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CB 22
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cambridgeshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 6033
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : English Rivers Palaeolithic Project
External Cross Reference Number : GOS 9/9
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 49 SW 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 870039
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1331554
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1331638
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1331696
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 49 SW 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-04-08
End Date : 1976-04-08
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEA CAMP
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1980-01-01
End Date : 1980-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEA CAMP
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1983-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEA CAMP
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEA CAMP (WIM SC 90-92)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEA CAMP
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE ENGLISH RIVERS PALAEOLITHIC PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEA CAMP
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31